On May 25, 2003, a Sunday, a hiker walking his dog in the woods above the Shady Rest campground in Mammoth Lakes, California noticed the animal unusually interested in something. When the hiker went to investigate what his dog had found, he discovered a human skull.
Several days after the discovery, a law enforcement officer searching the area found a shallow grave near where the dog found the skull. Several fragmented human remains were inside the grave, other fragments and artifacts were scattered around the area. The grave, and its contents, appeared to have been disturbedby the coyotes and bears common in the region.
A forensic team from the California Department of Justice responded from the Fresno Regional Crime Lab to process the crime scene. In addition to the human remains, the team found clothing, including size 1-2 pants, black 32A bra, Bass shoes size 5M, small top, Cold Air Design coat, and a watch that was still running.
The victim’s remains were later transported to the San Francisco medical examiner’s office for examination by a forensic anthropologist. Based on this examination, the victim was determined to be a 30-40 year old female, possibly southeast Asian, based on her slight 4-foot, 6-inch stature (give or take two inches). There were indications she had carried at least one fetus to full term.
The examination also established the victim had been dead six to nine months, and had spent the winter buried under the snow. Sierra snow pack that year was 160 percent of average.
DNA was then extracted and entered in the missing persons system, as well as the VICAP system. A press release was circulated to the local media.